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After debuting the performance-boosting Resizable BAR feature in the ho-hum GeForce RTX 3060, Nvidia promised that it would add the feature to all existing RTX 30-series graphics cards by the end of March. On the next-to-last day of the month, Team Green delivered. The newly available Game Ready driver version 456.89 unlocks Resizable BAR on every RTX 30-series desktop graphics cards.
It’s not quite that easy though. While the new drivers activate Resizable BAR, you’ll also need to wait for a new VBIOS from your graphics card’s specific manufacturer to add support for your particular model. Nvidia is releasing a VBIOS with Resizable BAR for its own Founders Edition graphics cards, for example, while EVGA owners will need to grab one of its fresh VBIOS upgrades.
You’ll also need a compatible CPU and motherboard, both of which will likely need BIOS upgrades of their own unless you’ve lucked into a new Ryzen 5000-series or Intel 11th-gen Core processor. This Nvidia explainer covers the convoluted process.
Going to all the trouble seems like it’ll be worthwhile…eventually. AMD introduced Resizable BAR support (under its own Smart Access Memory branding) when it launched its Ryzen 5000 CPUs and Radeon 6000 GPUs last fall and allows the feature to work with any game. Resizable BAR lets your CPU access your GPU’s entire memory buffer rather than limiting it to 256MB chunks. Flipping it on can lead to significant performance increases in some games, as our Smart Access Memory testing on the Radeon RX 6900 XT and 6700 XT shows, though many titles show more modest increases in the five-percent range. Actual results vary wildly depending on the game, GPU, resolution, and even the visual settings being tested
Nvidia’s initial Resizable BAR support is limited to just 17 titles, on the other hand, and this first batch looks largely limited to games that reviewers test more than games that are wildly popular. Their performance should be easy to measure at least, because most offer a built-in benchmark. “As we identify additional titles that benefit from Resizable BAR, we’ll introduce support via Game Ready Driver updates,” the company says.
Nvidia strongly stresses that you should download and install Game Ready driver version 456.89 before you begin the process of unlocking Resizable BAR on your graphics card.
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Senior editor Brad Chacos covers gaming and graphics for PCWorld, and runs the morning news desk for PCWorld, Macworld, Greenbot, and TechHive. He tweets too.